Steve Lozano, Yosemite

To my climbing partner, Della Fixsen, and I, it seemed like an exceptionally aesthetic route.  I was looking forward to experiencing this historical climb.

On June 21,1968 after 4 1/2 days, Warren Harding completed a new route on the Lost Arrow.

It follows a nearly vertical line for the entire 1400 feet from base to tip; a line which, for the most part, appears completely blank from the Valley floor.

To my climbing partner, Della Fixsen, and I, it seemed like an exceptionally aesthetic route.  I was looking forward to experiencing this historical climb.

We planned to spend four days and three nights up on the Spire. Our goal was to finish up at First Error Ledge (pitch 4) on the first night.  On the second night, Second Error Ledge (pitch 8) would be our stopping point.   Then we would spend our last night on The Notch (pitch 14).

We got our water from the base of Yosemite Falls, probably one of the best water pools I have ever retrieved water from.  It was getting late, so with our water bags full, we were ready to get busy.

I made a wrong decision on the route right off the bat and ended up on a ledge that was too high.  I had to down climb, which ended up with a 13-foot fall, which I always love.  I never mind starting out a climb with a fun, little whipper!

Della and I decided to swap leads throughout the climb, and she was next. While racking up I asked, “Did you want the hooks for this pitch?” She hesitated and said, “ No.”

Because I have a decent amount of aid climbing skills, I know to never leave those babies behind. About 30 or 40 feet up, she came to a blank face, looked down and said, “I can’t go anywhere.”  “Hmmm . . . really?  Do you think you want those hooks?” In a soft voice she called down,  “Yes, please.”

Much later, hunkered down, we were tired and it was pushing midnight, but we still needed to eat. Knowing that we had plush ivy ledges, we had packed the MSR Wisperlite and some good non-stick pans.  We made some amazing black bean veggie burgers and washed it down with some good ol’ King Cobras.  Exhausted, we fell asleep listening to the sound of the tent flapping to in the wind.

Around 7:30 a.m., the wind finally stopped and we were able to rest in silence until 9 a.m.  From the comfort of our sleeping bags, we enjoyed the view of Yosemite Falls with a hot cup of coffee warming our hands; not a bad way to start the day.  With only four pitches to do that day, our start time was not quite in keeping with alpine style.  After eating breakfast and breaking down camp, we finely got going at 11 a.m.

The morning started off well with me taking the first pitch on a mellow C1 style.  The day was hot, but really not too bad to deal with.  Della took the next pitch, which set her up for a nice lower out about 50 feet or so up from the belay into a nice free climbing corner. I knew this pitch was going to be a long one, so I got out my Bozeman’s chair and prepared for a nice relaxing belay. And it was relaxing until I heard a high-pitched scream. Looking up, I saw Della whipping through the air and across the hard granite until the old piton caught her, “Dude, You just took an easy 30 footer!  That was sick!  Oh, are you OK?”


Read more at Steve Lozano’s blog on

Note: We welcome Steve Lozano as a new ambassador to Mad Rock Climbing. Rock on, Steve!

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